Why Tape Storage Is Seeing a Renaissance in the Modern IT Environment

Why Tape Storage Is Seeing a Renaissance in the Modern IT Environment

Despite repeated predictions of its impending demise, tape storage remains a remarkably healthy technology. In fact, industry analysts expect exponential increases in the tape storage market due to emerging use cases as well as the need for low-cost, high-capacity data archival.

Continued improvements performance, capacity, and reliability have allowed tape to transcend its traditional role as a backup and archival medium. Today, tape is effectively addressing many new data-intensive market opportunities, including:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Machine-generated data is far outpacing the human-produced information thanks to growing numbers of IoT devices. Organizations are using tape storage for long-term management and analysis of IoT data.
  • Cloud environments. Believe it or not, many cloud providers use tape for economical cold storage of data. Tape supports the cloud model for consistency, efficiency and low cost.
  • Many laboratories are leveraging tape to handle the massive scale of research data while reducing storage costs by as much as 99 percent.
  • Media and entertainment. The media and entertainment industry, which must store huge volumes of data that never changes, has long been a primary market for tape storage.
  • Video surveillance. Many organizations are retaining video surveillance data for longer periods to meet business, legal and regulatory requirements. Tape provides a cost-efficient medium for the data generated by today’s high-definition video surveillance systems.

With the rise of ransomware attacks, cybersecurity has become an additional element of tape’s appeal. In a Barkly survey of ransomware attack victims, 58 percent said they were unable to successfully recover all their files because the disk drives used for backup had also been encrypted by malware. Unlike backup storage that is always online and potentially vulnerable, a tape cartridge creates an “air gap” defense because it’s physically disconnected from the network.

The introduction of eighth-generation LTO technology in late 2017 has helped to boost tape’s popularity. LTO-8 cartridges have double the capacity of the previous generation, with 30TB of compressed storage capacity and 12TB of uncompressed capacity. LTO-8 also offers sustained data transfer rates of 750MBps for compressed data and 360MBps for uncompressed data.

As with the previous generation, LTO-8 supports partitioning, hardware-based AES 256-bit data encryption, and write once, read many (WORM) technology. This makes LTO particularly appealing to the healthcare, financial and legal sectors that must not only meet strict data retention requirements but be able to prove that the information has not been altered.

Longevity remains one of tape’s primary benefits. Manufacturers’ specifications indicate that LTO tape a has a lifespan of 30 years or more, with the average tape drive lasting nearly 10 years. By comparison, the average disk lasts only about four years.

Tape also delivers highly favorable economics, particularly when factoring in energy and footprint costs. A study by Enterprise Strategy Group found that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a low-cost SATA disk system was 15 times higher than that of an LTO system. And tape drives don’t constantly consume power like spinning disks do.

Tape storage is far from dead — in fact, it’s seeing a renaissance in the modern IT environment. Let Rahi Systems show you how LTO-8 tape solutions deliver the capacity, performance and cost-efficiency to support your data-intensive use cases.

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